May 26, 2008

Computing on the backs of beetles

For decades, scientists have dreamed of computer chips that manipulate light rather than electricity. [...] For now, though, optical computing remains a dream.

Enter a beetle known as Lamprocyphus augustus. In a study published this week in Physical Review E, researchers at the University of Utah describe how the inch-long Brazilian beetle's iridescent green scales are composed of chitin arranged by evolution in precisely the molecular configuration that has confounded the would-be fabricators of optical computers. [...]

"Optical computers could do in a second what now takes days or weeks," said Bartl. "And we're providing the materials."
Full story at

Related post:

"...there are certain problems, such as folding proteins, that for humans [and their computers] seem to be intractable, but for nature are easy, instantly done..." Intractability vs Evolution

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